Offshore faces a new challenger

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It is rare that I have a day as far away from my computer as today, and I readily admit to having enjoyed it.

I've been the guest of Copenhagen Business School at a two day seminar to launch a new project to be located there focused on identifying innovations in the offshore world and how they might be tackled. The project is being funded by the Norwegian government, who also ultimately fund part of my work, and the synergies are obvious.

I am not going to recount all that was discussed; that would not interest many readers I suspect, and would also be inappropriate when the seminar was deliberately, and unusually for an academic event, not based upon the presentation of formal papers which too often (in my opinion) focus upon a review of existing literature and too often also within the framework if existing thinking, which discourages innovation. It was instead seeking to be exploratory, innovative and encouraging of the frank exchange of ideas. It succeeded within that framework.

That was not the key point of the event for me though. The first of those was that it was simply taking place. At a time when it would be easy to be despondent this seminar was  least in part solution focussed: the aim was to find what could be done to restore equity in finance, regulation and tax so that economies might survive their current stresses.

The second was as personally important, and I am aware that at least some others shared it, which was that it was so encouraging to take part in a research seminar where no one was asking you to justify why you thought offshore was so important. It remains the case that  far too few academics, and economists in particular (who were almost inevitably under-represented as a result), understand the enormous impact of offshore on the world economy and the resulting need to regulate them.

The result of seminars like this are rarely apparent when they take place and that was true on this occasion, bar one thing, which is that important new research has begun in Denmark, which is itself looking at becoming a major international participant on this issue alongside Norway, and I think that enormously significant in itself.